The leaders of the Catholic Church in Scotland and England and Wales have today sent out an Open Letter on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act to the Catholic community in Great Britain. The letter signed by Cardinal Keith O'Brien, President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O Connor, President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales will be made available to all Dioceses and parishes. The full text of the letter is shown below.

Open Letter on the 40th Anniversary of the Abortion Act

Monday, October 22, 2007

The leaders of the Catholic Church in Scotland and England and Wales have today sent out an Open Letter on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act to the Catholic community in Great Britain. The letter signed by Cardinal Keith O'Brien, President of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O Connor, President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales will be made available to all Dioceses and parishes. The full text of the letter is shown below.

Ends

Peter Kearney  
Director  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
Glasgow  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168
07968 122291  
pk@scmo.org  
www.scmo.org



Archbishop s House       Archbishop s House      
42 Greenhill Gardens       Ambrosden Avenue
Edinburgh       London
EH10 4BJ       SW1P 1QJ


22nd October 2007


Open Letter on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act from the Presidents of the Catholic Bishops Conferences of Scotland and England and Wales  


The 40th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act is an important moment for reflection. It gives us all an opportunity to seek to cherish human life and to support women in difficult circumstances. The law affects attitudes, but it does not itself compel anyone to have an abortion. Even without a change in the law the abortion rate could fall dramatically if enough minds and hearts were changed.

The miraculous nature of human reproduction has become ever more apparent through recent advances in medical technology. In 1967 Ultrasound was a primitive tool. Ultrasound scanners today can reveal in extraordinary detail the development of a human life in the womb. Premature babies are now able to survive at ever younger ages. Developmental biology makes increasingly clear the beautiful and intricate processes of continuous development and growth of the single unique organism which is formed at conception. That is when our lives started. From that point on, there is a new human life which is neither the life of the father nor the mother. In 2007 we understand better than ever before, because we have seen it with our own eyes, the wonderful process of life that is brought to an end by abortion.

The 1967 Act was intended to solve the problem of illegal abortion, on the basis that it was a major cause of death in pregnant women. Yet our countries now perform nearly 200,000 abortions every year. We have one of the most liberal abortion laws in Europe with abortion up to 24 weeks and abortion in the case of disability (and on some other grounds) up to birth. Whatever our religious creed or political conviction, abortion on this scale can only be a source of distress and profound anguish for us all. The Catholic Church throughout the world has been constant in its opposition to abortion as morally wrong, and has been determined to give voice to the silent cry for love and recognition that belongs to every human life. The Church has for many years in our countries been at the forefront of offering practical, emotional and spiritual care to women and babies in need. It has sought, too, to help the many women, and men, who suffer grief, pain and loss following an abortion experience.

In the years since 1967 much has been made of the slogan ˜the woman s right to choose . Yet the right to make a genuine choice is exactly what very many women who have abortions say they do not have.  

Abortion is a moment of choice. Abortion is always a choice between life and death, but we recognize that it is made in complex personal and domestic situations. It can be especially difficult for the mother if she feels abandoned by her partner or that by having the child she will lose the support of her family or society. Women in this situation can feel intensely isolated. Many women and men, too, already feel the pressure of caring for their families. They often have to cope with financial burdens and the demands of a career. In such situations, family relationships can feel so strained that they do not feel they can welcome another life. If the pregnancy is unwanted it can be easier to argue that it is somehow in the interests of the child not to be born because the child will not be welcomed. At times, the life of the child is seen as an unnecessary limitation on the mother and the father. The child s life is placed in opposition to theirs. When this happens abortion can be portrayed as the lesser of two evils which removes an obstacle to the success of the parents lives. Yet life, especially new life, is ultimately never a deprivation. It is a gift that always enriches; a promise filled with hope. We should never let ourselves be persuaded otherwise.  

Often, ˜a woman s right to choose fails to acknowledge the role of the father. It seems to pass over the fact that the majority of men do want to be fathers of their children. If we accept 'a woman's right to choose' as the governing principle of such a profound choice between life and death, then rather than encouraging men to accept responsibility, it can support their denial or avoidance.  

For everyone involved, abortion will often have been a painful and shattering decision. For many women it is one in which they, perhaps even as much as their unborn child, will have been the victim. This is why we believe that abortion is not only a personal choice, it is about the choices our society makes to support women, their partners and families in these situations. If our society makes life its choice then there is no reason why the child, the mother and the father, and indeed the whole family of society cannot grow to fulfill their potential. Abortion robs everyone of their future. Individually and as a society we believe we have another choice: to give birth to life.  

How can we all help bring about change? There is nothing to stop our society from acting now to foster a new understanding and approach to relationships, responsibility and mutual support:

¢      By being parents and families who cherish life and support our daughters and sons in making decisions which are responsibly pro-life.  

¢      By providing sympathetic counselling and help for young women who find themselves pregnant.

¢      By providing more and better facilities to support and help young mothers who choose to have their babies.  

¢      By dismantling a conveyor belt that can often take a young woman through to having an early abortion without any of the alternatives being properly explored or resourced. Making genuine freedom of choice a reality is the first and crucial step in a fundamental change of mind and heart.  

¢      By supporting and developing better educational programmes which place the gift of sexual relations within the context of marriage and fidelity. Such programmes can help people understand realistically the joy and sacred responsibility of parenthood. They can inform them about the resources available within the Catholic Church and society for supporting families and parents at moments of difficulty.  

¢      By respecting and supporting the decision of those in healthcare who refuse to perform or assist in abortions on grounds of conscience.

¢      By pressing for achievable change in the law in the light of advances in medical developments, even if Parliament will not abolish the law. Whilst upholding the principle of the sacredness of human life, it is both licit and important for those in public life who oppose abortion on principle to work and vote for achievable incremental improvement to what is an unjust law.

The Catholic faith lets us see the radiant glory of human life from its beginning to its end. When we know that every person whatever their age, race or condition carries the image of God, we see their infinite value and dignity. Whether we have this vision of faith or not, cherishing life is the central value of every society that wants to flourish.  

The Catholic Church offers to participate with others in working for this timely change of heart and mind. We hope and pray for the sake of our common humanity, and the lives at stake, that the next 40 years will tell a very different story. The time to take a different path is now.



Cardinal Keith O Brien Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O Connor
President President
Catholic Bishops Conference of Scotland Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales

Subscribe to Updates

Subscribe to:
Like   Back to Top   Seen 0 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates ?

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

Catholic Bishops announce resumption of communal worship

| 7 days ago | Blogging

Thursday 9 July 2020Catholic Bishops announce resumption of communal worshipScotland’s Catholic Bishops have welcomed the First Minister’s comments today (Thursday 9 July) on places of worship and have announced the resumption of communal worship in Catholic parishes from 15 July. Commenting on the move, the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Bishop Hugh Gilbert said;“Over the past month, our parishes have been preparing for the safe resumption of communal prayer and the celebration of Mass, which is at the centre of the life of the church. To have been unable to attend Mass for many months has been a source of real sadness for Scotland’s Catholics and I am sure there will be great joy at the prospect of returning.”“Thanks to the widespread implementation of the church’s Infection Control protocols, Catholic parishes will begin the resumption of public Masses and other communal activities from 15 July.”Bishop Gilbert added;“The bishops are extremely grateful to all those who have worked tirelessly to prepare our parishes for public worship and to those who made their views known to their parliamentary representatives and the government on the subject of communal worship.While thanking the Scottish Government for listening to these calls, we would remind parishioners that the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains suspended and ask those who return to do so in accordance with the infection control measures in force in each parish, mindful always of the need to protect themselves and others.”ENDS Peter Kearney 
Director 
Catholic Media Office 
0141 221 1168
07968 122291 
pk@scmo.org 
www.scmo.orgNote to Editors:The Infection Control Working Group’s Report can be viewed here:https://www.bcos.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/COVID-19%20Infection%20Control%20Advice%20230620.pdf...

Bishops welcome Review Group’s Annual report

| 26th June 2020 | Blogging

Bishops welcome Review Group’s Annual report Friday 26 June 2020   The Second Annual Report of the Independent Review Group (IRG) monitoring the implementation of the recommendations of the McLellan Commission by the Catholic Church in Scotland has been welcomed by the Bishops’ Conference. The report, published on 26 June is available at: https://www.bcos.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/IRG%20Report%20June%202020.pdf   Commenting on the publication, Bishop Joseph Toal, President of the Commission for Pastoral and Social Care said;“On behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, I thank the IRG for their work and welcome the publication of their second annual report, which will be given careful consideration.”   Bishop Toal added;   “Safeguarding remains at the heart of the church’s mission and the maintenance of high standards is only possible through independent scrutiny of an autonomous body like the IRG that works separately from the Catholic Church.”   ENDS Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291 pk@scmo.org www.scmo.org      ...

Bishops appoint new Vice Rector for Scots College

| 12th June 2020 | Blogging

Bishops appoint new Vice Rector for Scots College 12 June 2020   A new Vice Rector has been announced for the Pontifical Scots College in Rome. Fr Nick Welsh (36) was chosen for the post by the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland and is expected to begin the role in September.   He is currently parish priest at Our Lady and St Andrew, covering Galashiels, Melrose and Selkirk, and Vicar Episcopal for Education for the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh.   Commenting on the appointment, Archbishop Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh said: “The Bishops thank Fr Nick for accepting this role and acknowledge the big change in having to leave his parish to move to Rome. “I am confident he will do an excellent job in forming our seminarians. It’s both challenging and rewarding and, when he returns, our diocese will greatly benefit from his experience.”   Fr Nick attended the college as a seminarian between 2007-14 and has a licence in Theology.   Reacting to his appointment, Fr Nick said: “To go back to Rome is certainly an exciting thing for me. I love being a priest and it is life-giving to be around people who want to be priests. I look forward to contributing to the formation of the seminarians and helping them become good priests. But I will also leave the Borders with a heavy heart and wish to thank all parishioners there.”   College rector Fr Daniel Fitzpatrick said: “We look forward to welcoming Fr Nick who will have a key role in the day-to-day running of the seminary and accompanying students as part of their formation. He succeeds Fr Stuart Parkes who gave us three years of service and enjoyed contributing to the life of the college. We wish him all the best on his return to the diocese of Motherwell.”   ENDS   Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291 pk@scmo.org www.scmo.org   Note to Editors:   An image of Fr. Nick Welsh is available to download here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/139632090@N07/albums/72157714673928877  ...

Catholic Bishops say Immigration Bill will “drastically alter opportunities” for migrants

| 09th June 2020 | Blogging

Catholic Bishops say Immigration Bill will “drastically alter opportunities” for migrants. Tuesday 9 June 2020   In a strongly worded joint statement sent to opposition party leaders at Westminster, Catholic Bishops from Scotland and England & Wales have encouraged the UK Government to consider amendments to the Immigration Bill currently before parliament.   The Bishops’ call for; a time limit on detention, together with “a significant permanent reduction in the use of detention will allow us to properly protect people’s health and human dignity”, they also propose, that the minimum income threshold for family visas should be reduced and for repeal of the offence of illegal working, since “fear of prosecution currently deters people from escaping abusive employment practices or presenting themselves to the police”.   The statement also calls for changes to the clergy visa system. Scotland’s lead Bishop for migrants and refugees, Bishop William Nolan, said; “Most Catholic dioceses previously used Tier 5 Religious Worker visas for priests to come here on essential supply placements, allowing Catholics to continue attending Mass, the new Tier 2 visas have more than doubled the costs incurred by parishes arranging supply cover.” “Furthermore, seminaries that conduct formation in English are not necessarily recognised by the Home Office as meeting the English language requirement under the Tier 2 route, meaning that many priests who have been educated to post-graduate level in English are nevertheless required to take a language test with extra logistical and cost implications.” Bishop Nolan concluded; “We strongly urge the Government to accept amendments addressing these important issues and hope that MPs from all parties will take this opportunity to help create a more just and humane immigration system.”   ENDS   Peter Kearney Director Catholic Media Office 0141 221 116807968 122291 pk@scmo.org www.scmo.org     Note to Editors:   The full text of the statement is shown below: Catholic Church statement on amendments to the Immigration Bill The Immigration Bill currently before parliament will drastically alter people’s opportunities to build their lives here and contribute to our society. The UK’s Catholic population is made up of people from across the world including a significant number of European citizens. Around 60% of Europeans living in the UK are Catholics. We therefore recognise the profound impact that ending free movement will have on so many families and communities. While we do not agree with the principle of making European citizens apply for their existing rights in the UK, the Church is working to raise awareness of the Settlement Scheme and help those who are at risk of losing their status. However, no scheme will reach all European citizens in the UK. Even if a small proportion do not make an application by the June 2021 deadline, this could leave thousands of people without legal status. We encourage amendments to the bill that will create a meaningful safety-net including options to extend the deadline. At the same time this bill and the development of new rules present a chance to make several positive changes to our immigration system: Introducing a time limit on immigration detention The UK remains the only European country without a time limit on detention. This has devastating consequences for the wellbeing of vulnerable individuals who find themselves detained including some victims of torture, survivors of trafficking and people fleeing religious persecution in their home countries. It also has a significant impact on families who are separated with no indication of when they might be reunited. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted serious health risks in crowded detention centres. While we are grateful for the emergency steps that were taken to reduce infection and save lives, only a significant permanent reduction in t...